24 Hours: New York City

Julian High Line

Julian Gill-Peterson shares his ideal itinerary for New York City in 24 Hours:

If you only have a day in New York, well, get ready for possibly the biggest day you’ve ever had. After buying a MetroCard day pass so you can take transit an unlimited amount of times, fuel up on some caffeine. Your starting neighborhood is up to you, really, but if I’m, say, near Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village, and NYU, I like to frequent Third Rail Coffee. It’s tiny and cash-only, but you won’t care, because the coffee lives up to its namesake, the electrified track on the subway.

I won’t tell you to do all the super famous sites that you already have on your bucket list, but I will recommend that you take time to visit at least one greenspace in the city that you hadn’t planned on. The High Line, a reclaimed park on old elevated rail tracks, has recently expanded, now running from 14th Street to 34th Street and offers unparalleled views of Manhattan. Another neat project is that the city is working to extend a massive park around the entire island of Manhattan. Start at the Hudson River Park on the West Side, in Chelsea (around 23rd Street), where the piers have been beautifully redesigned, and rent a bike or just walk. A similar and beautiful pier redevelopment is growing at Brooklyn Bridge Park, too, if that’s more your style. Plus, you’d only be steps away from Grimaldi’s Pizza over there.

By the time you’re hungry for lunch you won’t have to go far, no matter where you are. If you are still in downtown Manhattan, try Caracas, a Venezuelan Arepa Bar that has a line for a good reason. The lunch special, which serves up an arepa with your choice of soup or salad (they are both outstanding, I can never decide) for $8.95 is hard to beat. The East Village location is on E. 7th Street. For a bit of high culture afterwards, I’ll let you decide between the Met, the Guggenheim, the Whitney, the Frick, MoMa, and the Natural History Museum (dinosaurs always win for me). If you do go to the Met, though, make sure to go to the somewhat secret rooftop garden for a gorgeous view of Central Park and Upper Manhattan. Perfect photo-op.

For dinner, I would say bolt for Brooklyn (remember why I told you to get that unlimited MetroCard?). Take the L Train to Williamsburg/Bushwick to try and get in to Roberta’s—it’s a famously busy place, but you will be rewarded. And yes, an episode of Girls takes place there. Or, if barbecue is your thing, Fette Sau has been endorsed by my friends from Kansas City as possibly even better than the barbecue back home. After dinner, you have two options. Head east, deeper into Bushwick, for all things hipster and underground. That’s not exactly my scene, so a good compromise for me is Tandem, which has the Brooklyn standard PBR + shot of whiskey combo all night. For a less laborious social scene, head West back into the heart of Williamsburg, land of bars. I like to hang out at The Woods on Wednesday nights, the bar at Nitehawk Cinema, even if I’m not seeing a movie (but especially if I am), and either This n’ That or Metro for divey queer crowds and dancey times.

Bars officially close at 4am, I guess, but I can’t recall ever having to leave one because it got too late, at least on the weekends. Remember, the subway never closes, but late night construction and maintenance often makes a cab a nice treat on your way home. If you are in Williamsburg or Bushwick and staying in Manhattan, moreover, you’ll get to roll down the windows and cruise over a bridge with the city lit up for you—a site in and of itself. Outside of Manhattan, there are now green colored “borough cabs” that you can hail on the street, solving the perennial problem of no yellow taxis in sight outside of Manhattan.

Final Notes: As Annie can attest, New Yorkers are a strange bunch that can give you completely incorrect or useless advice because they won’t admit to not knowing something, so I know how tackling New York can seem overwhelming. Nevertheless, don’t be intimidated by the big city, it’s all part of the charm! See the big sites if it’s your first time in town, but make sure you also head to Brooklyn to see a different side of life. You won’t regret it. And then just come back again and again. We love having you.

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